Can you upgrade your Disney tickets to an annual pass?

Can you upgrade your Disney tickets to an annual pass?

by Ashley
(New Jersey)

I'm planning a vacation for late August and want to get the free dining plan, but considering I'm going to Disney in the next April than next July, I wanted to get an annual pass to save money. Unfortunately though I can't get the free dining plan if I don't buy my tickets through the package, so I was wondering if I booked the vacation, if I could go to the park to upgrade my tickets to an annual pass.

Have your Mickey Bar ...

The cart for Mickey Bars

Photo by Miss Millificent

Dad’s how to have your Mickey Ice Bar and eat it too Answer


Disney is pretty good about offering families ways to save and make their trips to Walt Disney World more affordable. Whether it’s free dining, discounted hotel rooms, the-longer-you-play-the-less-you-pay-per-day, or any of a number of other offers, if you’re a savvy shopper it’s very likely that you’ll find a way to save on every trip you take. But don’t forget – Disney needs to make money too and they’re pretty clever about making sure you only take advantage of one discount at a time.

Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean that we can’t find a way to be MORE clever about maximizing our savings! Dad’s been on the case researching your situation, and while there’s no easy cut-and-dry solution, there are a few things you can try to combine the savings on an annual pass with the added value of a free dining plan.

The first thing you’ll want to try is good old-fashioned arithmetic. If you’d rather pick one discount over the other, you’ll need to do the math to figure out whether free dining or the annual pass will save you more in the long run. As a general rule of thumb, the Annual Pass is worth buying if you’re planning to spend ten or more days at the parks in a year. But will it save you more than free dining on one of your three planned trips? Maybe, maybe not.

Dad’s Walt Disney World Annual Pass Page

Here’s what you should do: determine how many days worth of park tickets you’d need to buy on each of your trips, and then price out Magic Your Way tickets for each trip (for example, a 5-day trip, a 3-day trip, a 7 day trip). Take that price and subtract the annual pass price. Whatever that number turns out to be, we’ll call is Discount A.

Now let’s talk about the Disney Dining Plan. Dad never thinks it’s a good deal, unless it’s free. In your case, the question is whether it makes sense to get free dining for one trip and pay for food on your next 2 trips (since there’s no way to tell at this point if Free Dining is ACTUALLY Dead).

So, head on over to Dad’s Disney Dining Plan Calculator, and tally up what you’d spend on food during your August trip and we’ll call that Discount B. After all of this, all you have to do is look at the numbers. If Discount B is larger than Discount A, go with Free Dining! If Discount A is larger, get yourself an Annual Pass! Easy, right?

If math isn’t your strong suit, or if you really want to make the two discounts work together, there are a few more options. You can book your Magic Your Way with Free Dining package for August, and at your hotel, explain that you’re interested in upgrading your tickets to an annual pass – they might be able to do it right on the spot even if this option isn’t available to you by phone or online in advance.

If that fails, you can always book your return trip in April while you’re on your August trip. Disney calls this a Bounce Back offer, and it works by offering you a very nice discount on a future stay (typically a stay within the next year) as long as you commit to the trip by booking it before you go home. It’s a great bargain for families who are ready to sign up for another vacation before the current one ends!

Finally, you can be sneaky and try to out-smart the folks at Disney – have your Mickey Ice Cream Sandwich and eat it too. Here’s what you’ll do: book your August trip for as many days as you like, including hotel and free dining for your length of stay, but only add on one day of park tickets (that’s all you need to “activate” free dining). On your second day at the park, simply buy an annual pass to use for the rest of the year. Then reward yourself for being so clever with an actual Mickey Ice Cream Sandwich. (Don't know how much actual money this will save.)

You could always just turn all of this over to the professionals and let them figure it all out. That's right, the Disney Vacation Planners (Pixies and Pirates) over at Pixie and Pirate Destinations know all the tricks and will be able to help you pick out the best option. Go over and talk to one of them. You won't be sorry. Trust me.

Pixie and Pirate Destinations

The Best of WDW - Volume 2


Dad's Bottom Line

Ashley, thanks for the great question. Dad loves getting the chance to think outside the box about the best way to save on Walt Disney World vacations. Let me know how your hunt for savings unfolds!

Comments for Can you upgrade your Disney tickets to an annual pass?

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Jun 06, 2019
Upgrade ticket
by: Anonymous

How can I upgrade my 10 Day pass to an annual standard pass and how much will it cost.

Dad Answers

Just got to any Disney ticket window or a concierge desk at a Disney hotel. They can update it for you. It will cost the difference between what you paid for the ticket and the current cost of an Annual Pass.

Feb 22, 2019
Cost to Upgrade to AP
by: Anonymous

This is exactly what I am looking to do. I just want to upgrade one of our tickets. How can I find out how much the cost will be to upgrade? I have a bounceback offer that is a package- room, tickets with park hopper in order to receive free dining. (6 ph days). What if our first day in park we enter by using a hard ticket for event? Can upgrade be done or better to upgrade after used one day of a park ticket?

Dad Answers

You might get the price information from Disney before you go by phone, or you might have to go to a ticket location at Disney World.

It doesn't matter when you upgrade technically, but once you upgrade you can start getting AP discounts, so you might want to do it as soon as possible. You can upgrade at the Concierge Desk at any of the Disney hotels, or at a ticket booth at the parks.

Jan 11, 2019
by: Aaron

I spoke with a cast member over chat and confirmed it with a phone call and they both said the same thing. I could get the free dining package and still upgrade to an AP no problem when I get there and not lose the free dining or anything. No need to play games like one get one day of tickets. No need to decide which deal I like better. I can get both the free dining and the AP upgrade.

By the way, free dining is going to be the better deal almost every time if you did have to make a choice. This will only work the first trip to get the free dining because you typically need to purchase a package to get it. With you AP you will have to count on hotel discounts for your future trips if you are looking for a price break.

Apr 25, 2018
One more item
by: Leslie

I would add to make sure you factor in other savings that may come with annual pass. Discounts and memory maker (if you were planning on purchasing it).

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